Chintheche Inn is situated on the northern shore of Lake Malawi
Chintheche Inn: Our full report
Chintheche Inn is situated on the northern shore of Lake Malawi, Africa's third largest lake, in one of the country's most beautiful and varied areas. Swathes of tropical rainforest lead down to the lake where the beaches are beautiful – miles of pristine white sand with jagged rock formations, and dotted with fishing villages.
When we visited in September 2007, we loved Chintheche. It has a relaxed feel and a good ambience – and the managers, John and Bronnie, did everything they could to make us feel really welcome. John is an excellent chef and one of his specialities, chambo (lake fish) in beer batter is extremely popular.
On arrival the first area you will be taken to is the reception area where you find a collection of comfy chairs where you can relax while sorting out your paperwork. In the reception area is a small curio shop with which sells useful items such as camera film, sunscreen and a few local items.
To the right, a thatched pathway leads to the rooms, which are entered through the back and which open out through French windows to the lawn and then the beach.
Behind the reception area is a slightly dark lounge and bar area (which I am told will be refurbished during 2008), and a dining area which opens out onto a dining verandah with individual tables. On the large lawn at the front, under a shade tree, is a collection of comfortable wicker sofas.
There is a good sized swimming pool and a separate children's pool situated at the edge of the lawn area overlooking the beach. The beach itself is large, white and beautiful – dotted with the occasional rock and with loungers and thatched umbrellas for guest use.
Chintheche is able to offer a good range of activities beyond the watersports and lake. Knowledgeable local guides are always on hand to lead birding walks in the area, to arrange visits to the local fishing villages, mountain biking trails and fishing trips with the local fishermen. The nearby Bandawe mission also provides a fascinating look into the country's colonial past.
Activities at Chintheche Inn include swimming, snorkelling, windsurfing, sailing and trips in sturdy wooden fishing boats to points of local interest. It also has a large swimming pool for those days when the lake is rough.
The Inn has ten brightly furnished rooms, plus two simpler 'cottages' – which are a little further from the main lodge – and a campsite.
All the rooms face directly on to the beach and the extensive grounds and gardens. Each room has private en suite facilities and is equipped with fans and mosquito nets. There is a central dining area and bar although (weather permitting) guests can usually dine out under the stars.
Ideal length of stay: 4 – 5 nights
Directions: The inn is a four-hour drive from Lilongwe on fairly good roads, or you can charter a flight to the Dwangwa (Chintheche) airstrip which is about ten minutes drive.
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Staff: Inn Manager: John Russell and Bronnie Driscoll Guides: Nation, Hastings and Wesley Chef: John Russell
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Meals at Chintheche usually follow the format of a continental or English breakfast served in the morning (the times are very flexible), lunch from 12pm to 2pm, and then a full three course dinner at around 7.30 pm.
The camp will cater to special requests if some notice is given.
Meals are served either in the main dining area our outside under the stars.
The last time we stayed at Chintheche the food was superb – John's famous chambo in beer batter was served for lunch which was absolutely delicious. In the evening we chose the chicken tagine from a good, varied menu – and again this was delicious.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: No drinks are included
Beach holidays: The inn has a wooden boat and a speedboat, both of which can be hired for a day or half a day. Trips out to local islands are perfect for snorkeling and swimming (snorkelling gear can be hired from the inn) as the lake is crystal clear, warm and teeming with brightly coloured fish.See more ideas for Beach holidays in Malawi
Birdwatching: The birding walks start in the grounds of the inn and then in the area immediately surrounding. The local area boasts a variety of habitats – open water, marsh, grassland and some thick forest. Varieties such as the blue spotted dove, palmnut vulture, moustached warbler and pennant-winged nightjar can be found.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Malawi
Riding: Horseriding is on offer at nearby Khande Beach (ten minutes drive away). All abilities of rider are welcome and the rides vary from an hour's forest ride to a three-hour bush, beach and swim ride (the horses love the water!). A picnic lunch can also be taken if a longer ride is requested.See more ideas for Riding in Malawi
Traditional Cultures: The inn is situated in an area with many small fishing villages – one of the highlights of my visit was a walk through these villages, surrounded by children, to watch the fishermen bring their catches in. Being taken by a local guide ensures that these walks are fascinating but not intrusive.See more ideas for Traditional Cultures in Malawi
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome.
Equipment: Both cots and highchairs are available.
Generally recommended for children: We would highly recommend this for children.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Telephone, e mail and internet are available for guests to use – the inn is a WIFI hotspot, and also has mobile reception.
TV & radio: None.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: Nearest doctor is at the local clinic in Chintheche, approximately five minutes drive away.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There are unarmed nightwatchmen at night to escort you to and from your room, and the inn has guard dogs when needed.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside the rooms and in the common areas.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: There is an extra charge for this but it is a speedy service – clothes are collected in the morning and returned during the afternoon or early evening. There is a laundry list in the rooms.
Money: There is a central safe in the office and guests are welcome to leave valuables/documents here.